Jovan Belcher And Adam Lanza Were Not Militias: Shut Up About The Second AmendmentS

Two weeks ago, in the aftermath of the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide, Bob Costas went on national television and said some sensible things about guns, and lots of people—some of them on this very site—responded with all the predictable idiot lowing. This was bad enough, but the true measure of how fucked up we are as a country about guns came four days later. Costas was appearing on Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor as part of his damage-control Stations of the Cross. Here was the exchange:

O'REILLY: So first up, how do you feel about the right to bear arms?

COSTAS: Obviously, Americans have a right to bear arms. I'm not looking to repeal the Second Amendment.

"Obviously," he said, even though the Second Amendment has nothing to do with private ownership of guns. No, really. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with private ownership of guns, a fact that's been effectively obscured by 40 years of academic vandalism and bamboozling pseudo-history conducted under the auspices of the NRA. Adam Lanza was not a well-regulated militia. Jovan Belcher did not bear arms against Kasandra Perkins and then himself. Their right to carry a Glock or a Sig Sauer rifle is not enshrined in the country's most sacred text.

Costas should've known better, but it's hard to blame him when even historians have thrown up their hands and let bad scholarship pass into the bloodstream. That "obviously" was bought with millions and millions of the NRA's dollars. It is the signal triumph of the gun culture Costas was decrying.

You're going to hear a lot more in the coming days about our gun culture and the Second Amendment, but the terms of the debate will have already been set—and methodically impoverished—by the work of many hired bullshitters. "Obviously," Costas said. That's how fucked up we are about guns. The leftmost margin of our current national gun conversation had been established by a man who was now capitulating on the very meaning of the Bill of Rights.